ishinomaki, japan government, kamaishi, kesennuma, minami sanriku, yomiuri shinbun

2012: rebuilding disaster-hit areas / Mayors, town officials stress working together to recover from March 11, yomiuri, 1/5/2012

The Yomiuri Shimbun

People clap to celebrate the first sale of the year at the Kesennuma fish market in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, on Wednesday.

Areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake kicked off the first working day of the year Wednesday.

The year’s first catch delighted fisheries cooperative association members, while mayors of municipal governments called on officials for concerted efforts to rebuild their hometowns.

At the Kesennuma fish market in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, more than 1,000 fish, including tuna, were on sale. A 61-kilogram bigeye tuna was priced at 305,610 yen, more than 10 percent higher than the first sale last year.

Ryosuke Sato, president of the Kesennuma fishery cooperative association, said, “We’d like to show the power of our town, without slowing the reconstruction pace.”

Municipalities’ first working day started with ceremonies in which mayors addressed city officials. The atmosphere was like an “opening ceremony” toward full-fledged reconstruction of their hometowns.

In Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, where about 4,000 were killed by the disaster, Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama encouraged the officials. “I hope you will work with the awareness you are making history [through reconstruction],” Kameyama said.

In Kesennuma, Mayor Shigeru Sugawara told officials: “Let’s work under the slogan of ‘We’ll never say we can’t do it.'”

Minami-Sanriku Town Mayor Jin Sato told town officials, “To show our gratitude to people who supported us, we have to show them how quickly we can rebuild our town.”

In Fukushima Prefecture, the governments of Okuma Town and Iitate Village–both located near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant–kicked off the first working day of the year in Aizu-Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture, and Fukushima City, respectively, as the municipalities’ offices were relocated to these cities.

Okuma is currently dealing with the problem of construction of a proposed interim storage facility for contaminated soil. During the ceremony on Wednesday, Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe referred to Ryuji Kashiwabara, a Toyo University runner whose team won the Tokyo-Hakone collegiate ekiden held on Monday and Tuesday. Kashiwabara is from Iwaki City in the prefecture.

“We’ll have to move forward step by step even though we may not be able to run as well as Mr. Kashiwabara,” Watanabe said.

Residents of Iitate Village are still banned from the village. Mayor Norio Kanno said, “I believe we can overcome difficulties through everyone’s efforts as leaders of the ‘team Iitate government.'”

On Wednesday, both municipalities resumed the central government’s model decontamination project suspended since Dec. 29 because of year-end and New Year holidays.

Meanwhile, in Kamaishi Port in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, the Kamaishi Coast Guard Office held a ceremony for members in charge of searching for missing people. After the ceremony, 25 members headed out to sea on patrol boats.
(Jan. 5, 2012)

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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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